Interview with AfDB Chief Research Economist, Peter Ondiege, following the release of the Africa Competitiveness Report
Question: What is the Africa Competitiveness Report?
Answer: The Africa Competitiveness Report (ACR) 2009 is a joint report of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the World Bank, which examines the competitiveness of African economies, using various criteria. The ACR presents a unified vision and mapping of the policy challenges that African countries need to address to preserve the foundations for sustainable economic growth. The ACR 2009 examines many aspects of Africa’s business environment and, more generally, themes that will boost the prosperity of its nations, including:
- assessments of the competitiveness and costs of doing business on the continent;
- timely analyses of the depth and sophistication of the region’s financial markets;
- effective measures that relatively smaller economies on the continent have taken to promote their competitiveness; and
- the extent to which African countries have put into place factors facilitating the free flow of trade over their borders.
The report seeks to inform decision makers from private, public and political circles about Africa’s business climate as a basis for investment for sustainable growth on the continent.
Question: Who are the partners involved in the production of the Africa competitiveness report?
Answer: The report is a joint collaboration and partnership of the African Development Bank, the World Economic Forum and the World Bank. Since 2001, the World Economic Forum has been producing the African Competitiveness Report (ACR) on a biennial basis and, in 2007, the three institutions agreed to jointly produce the report so as to reduce redundancies and speak with a single voice on strategic issues that affect Africa’s competitiveness.
Question: What does the report contain about Africa’s competitiveness?
Answer: Since the last report in 2007, significant improvements have occurred, particularly in the area of goods market efficiency, which is a critical pillar of the competitiveness criteria. This improvement is linked to efficiencies in the opening of markets in the region and improvements to the business environment (reduced number of procedures and time to start a business; improved quality and quantity of higher education and training and higher enrolment rates in many countries. Labour market efficiency also improved in several countries. Areas for improvement include: infrastructure development, macro-economic stability and health, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Question: What is the role of the AfDB?
Answer: The Bank is engaged in supporting Africa’s competitiveness and is reforming its support for infrastructure which is one of the weak areas identified by the ACR 2009, especially in sub-Saharan African countries. In particular, the Bank has significantly scaled up its investment in transport infrastructure, energy, Information Technology and Communication (ICT) and water infrastructure. The Bank is also active in the area of governance and structural reforms, private sector development and is investing in vocational and skill development as well as macro-economic policy reforms, which are areas that also recorded low scores in the competitiveness. In this context, the African Development Bank is very responsive to efforts at strengthening the capacity of African countries to reinforce their competitiveness and build a solid foundation for sustainable growth.